FRISCO, Texas – On Dec. 23, Tyrone Crawford heard a cracking noise, felt a rush of pain in his back, and feared the worst.
The veteran defensive lineman had suffered a neck stinger on the second play against the Bucs. He stayed down on the AT&T Stadium turf for several minutes while the Cowboys' medical staff examined him.
"At first I was scared because I heard a sound and obviously when something happens in your body you can hear it loud," Crawford recalled Tuesday in his first practice back since the injury. "But when I hit the (Bucs) O-Lineman, the center, he kind of said, 'Are you all right?' I was like, 'OK, he heard it too.'
"So now I'm laying on the ground and I was scared until I moved my fingers and my legs and then I knew I was all right."
The medical staff placed Crawford on a stretcher and sent him to the hospital for further evaluation. All tests were negative, confirming that the defensive captain had avoided serious injury.
He thinks the cracking noise came from his neck, similar to a chiropractor adjustment "times two."
While in the hospital, Crawford said he watched the rest of the Cowboys' division-clinching victory over the Bucs and later FaceTimed with teammates checking on him. He went from the hospital later that afternoon and was back at The Star in Frisco the next day.
"As soon as they told me everything was good, I just prayed and said thank you," he said.
After sitting out last week's practices and the Cowboys' regular-season finale against the Giants, Crawford had limited participation in Tuesday's practice wearing a protective neck roll. He's preparing to play in Saturday's wild-card playoff game against Seattle.
"I'm just trying to get the best I can out of practices with the tempo that we're going and get as much as I can back to get out there," he said. "But I plan on feeling real good and feeling back to normal once gametime comes."
During the injury scare, Crawford was grateful for the support he got from the medical staff, as well as the way his teammates responded on the field.
"I was just happy and proud of them," he said. "Proud of the fight that they put up, how they responded after I went down, because I know if one of my brothers went down and I don't have any information, I'd be worried and that would be one of the things in my head."